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Featured image credit: id Software
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
PC Release Date: March 20, 2020
Genre: First-person shooter
Reviewed on: AMD RX 580, Intel i7-4770, 16 GB RAM, Windows 10 x64, Build 1903
AMD Drivers: 20.1.3
Many gamers had low expections from the reboot of the legendary first-person shooter series which was released in 2016. Doom 3, on the other hand, was technically and graphically very impressive, however, it was more of a survival game, rather than a hardcore fast-paced demon shooter. Above all, the game was released almost 16 years ago, and it seemed that Bethesda and id Software lost their element of surprise. Due to DOOM’s lukewarm reception, and Bethesda’s embargo on publishing reviews before its release, many fans of the series were skeptical of the release of its latest installment. DOOM, however, made a great comeback in 2016, and it proved to be one of the best games to play that year.
When id Software officially confirmed that it was working on the next sequel, many gamers started to ask themselves can the next DOOM beat the original formula that proved to work very well. DOOM featured dynamic, tense and fast-paced gameplay which included a new combat system called “Glory Kills”. All known weapons were brought back, and featured minor improvements which proved to fit nicely into the game. Demons, stages, blood and aesthetics had true DOOM vibes, and all of that was wrapped around with an amazing heavy metal soundtrack produced by Mick Gordon.
Id Software’s response to the original formula was this: “Let’s add more of everything!” In that sense, DOOM Eternal continues where the reboot left off. Our favorite Doom Slayer, also known as the Doomguy, cleansed out Mars from armies of hell, and now he owns the Fortress of Doom, from where he embarks to cleanse another planet. The Earth in DOOM Eternal isn’t exactly in a very good shape, in fact it has become a home for demons. Since Doomguy doesn’t support their practices, the time has come for an intervention.
The greatest joy in last DOOM came from shooting, squashing, tearing, cutting, blowing and dismembering demons. DOOM Eternal from the beginning starts with this kind of action. In game’s short introduction you are given a shotgun, and are politely asked to starting shooting on everything that moves. If you’ve played the game that was released four years ago, you’ll be familiar with the combat style and mechanics, and if you are not, don’t worry, as instructions and hints about weapons usage, upgrades and info on demons are scattered throughout the whole game. In case you don’t want to be bothered with these at all, you can easily disable them and fully enjoy your gameplay without any distractions.
Compared to the 2016’s DOOM, the DOOM Eternal will force you to use your chainsaw more often in your gameplay. Glory Kills still replenish your health and ammunition, which are quickly depleted. In most cases you will obtain your health and ammo by cutting in half lesser demons with your chainsaw, and then collecting power-ups which will remain among their organs on the floor. There is no more sticking to only one weapon, as id Software made changes to the game’s mechanics which will force you to think more and use whole arsenal of weapons on your disposal against hordes of enemies.
DOOM Eternal features six gameplay difficulty levels, from which four of them are “ordinary”, while there are two for masochists. On higher difficulty levels you will have to implement more refined combat strategies, and one of them will surely be dispatching lesser demons at the very beginning of the fight. This will enable you to use different types of weapons, and perform acrobatic jumps which will protect you from hazards of death arenas. Besides chainsaw, Doomguy also has a few extra tools in his arsenal – the flamethrower for barbecuing demons, and a Blood Punch, which enables you to engage demons into chest-to-chest combat and make paste out of them. As was said earlier, on higher difficulty levels you will have to combine all of these techniques and weapons in order to stay alive, as only a few hits and projectiles will send the almighty protagonist back to the last checkpoint.
Another novelty in DOOM Eternal is that Doomguy has become more mobile than ever. Besides performing double jumps, you can also dash. Some platforming sections of the game will force you to jump and dash a lot, which will make you feel like you are in some kind of Super Mario game from hell. Although some players might not like that, platforming sections will provide a bit of a relief from the intense adrenaline-packed action which will exhaust your cognitive skills.
When talking about upgrades, which are an essential part of the game’s gameplay, last DOOM introduced a variety of skills to upgrade throughout the playthrough, however, in DOOM Eternal this is brought to a much higher level. Besides weapons, which feature up to two modifications and abilities, there are also a couple of new changes. Since weapons arsenal has been expanded, you will have to use Praetor Suits Points in order to unlock extra features of your combat suit. There are also crystals which increase your health, armor and ammo capacities, as well as Runes which are used to upgrade your skills and make your life easier.
Story-wise, DOOM series has never been known for stellar writing. In that sense, DOOM Eternal is no exception. You are a space marine to whom nobody can stand against to, and your main mission is to stop the invasion of Hell’s forces. In 2016’s reboot Doomguy would usually destroy or break something when someone would start talking. In DOOM Eternal, however, world is much more serious place, and most of the information is obtained by reading texts and messages scattered throughout arenas.
Information about demons, characters, location and weapons are all stored in your portable Codex, while the plot twists are presented through various cut-scenes which usually occur at the beginnings or endings of stages. Altogether, DOOM Eternal features 13 levels, or stages, among which many of them are set either on Earth or in Hell. There are also some new locations that hadn’t been introduced to the series until now. For completing the game you will have to spend around 15 hours, and if you plan to unlock all secrets, DOOM Eternal will keep you playing it for 25-30 hours.
Although DOOM Eternal packs its super-intense gameplay with much serious story, most of the time you won’t understand what is going on, and you won’t remember this game for its secrets, protagonists and antagonists. This however, isn’t a big problem, since DOOM Eternal is heavily action-oriented game. There will be some funny cut-scenes in which you’ll see Slayer ruining someone’s day, however, after they end, your main objective will be to kill all demons around you.
DOOM series was known for providing amazing single-player experiences, however, modern ages require modern adaptations, and DOOM Eternal is no exception when it comes to its multiplayer component. Instead of online modes, which were available in 2016’s reboot, Id Software created a completely new mode. This mode, called Battlemode, is an asymmetric 1 vs 2 experience in which one player is in a role of Slayer, while the other two play as demons. The winner is the first player who scores three points, and win in each round can get you maximally 1 point. Although it’s funny to play as a demon, the Battlemode is not very balanced multiplayer experience, and it requires long time to find a match if you don’t play with your friends. The Battlemode, however, has potential, but it seems very likely that it won’t survive for long.
When speaking about system performance on PC, there is no doubt that Id Software can create an amazingly stunning and optimized graphical engine. The initially published system requirements left many gamers doubting, however, DOOM Eternal runs extremely smooth on ultra high settings, and without any hiccups in gameplay. Everything works as it should, and loading times are acceptable.
There are some occasional bugs which you might encounter during jumping and dashing animations. In some situations you can even get stuck in place, which will cause demons to quickly destroy you, however, these situations are rather rare. Occasional bugs might cause a bit of frustration, but with a little bit of practice and figuring out game’s combat mechanics, they can easily be avoided.
Overall, DOOM Eternal is better, harder, faster and stronger than the original. Encounters with hordes of demons are tougher, so you will have to be more careful. Combat is extremely tense, the game’s visuals are amazing and soundtrack is superb. Variety of locations make single-player playthrough more interesting, and there is plenty of items and upgrades to obtain. If, however, that isn’t enough for your likes, you can always increase the game’s difficulty and try yourself in Master Levels. There is also a solid multiplayer component, provided you have friends who will play with you. Id Software proved once again that it can make an excellent first-person shooter, and we hope that this isn’t the last time we meet with the Doomguy.